CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation and South Carolina Department of Public Safety announced they will be changing the way lane reversals are done during evacuations.
Deputy Secretary Leland Colvin said teams looked at past traffic data and worked with an internal leadership program to come up with the changes.
The lane reversal will now start at Nexton Parkway instead of the merge of I-526. This will cut out about 15 miles of reversals in the Lowcountry.
“This is awesome," SCDOT Commission Chair Robbie Robbins said. “This is just really, really good. There was a big need... to allow people to move east and west in the Charleston market, which they could not do as you folks well know, if the Mark Clark was the entry point. So this is great.”
“The existing plan definitely did not allow for a lot of movement throughout the Charleston area, including getting to the airport,” Colvin said. “During that lane reversal and evacuation order maybe something we didn’t take into consideration is the visitors there may not be evacuating via road.”
Another change will happen at the end of the lane reversals, in the Columbia area. Drivers on the normal westbound lanes will no longer be required to take I-77. They can continue onto I-26.
“At the I-77 end, the western end of the lane reversal, had probably the most congestion at that point," Colvin said. "And prior to this new tune up, if you were on the normal westbound lanes we required you to take I-77 north and it created a lot of driver confusion.”
Finally, some additional entry and exit points were added so drivers on the reversed lanes could get off and on the interstate before they get to Columbia. Those edits will be exit 194 (Jedburg Road), exit 159 (Homestead Road) and exit 139 (Burke Road).